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245 of 264 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2010
I was thrilled to discover the new release of this book and especially happy to read the afterward by Dolly. Over the years, I have often wondered what had become of her and what directions her life took. My old copy of Possum Living sits tattered and taped in my permanent book collection which consists of only twelve books. I love this book and would read other titles by Dolly if she were inclined to write and publish them. (hint, hint). I may not have agreed with everything in the book but found it to be a wonderfully written account of Dolly's experience, full of humor and candor and wisdom way beyond her years. I was also one of the (many, I'm sure) folks who was inspired by Dolly and actually took her advise and embarked on the possum lifestyle. I found a dilapidated, abandoned house in a pleasant neighborhood and bought it at auction, dirt cheap. Believe it or not, I was by myself with no help or support and earning minimum wage at the time. It was true that broken pipes and windows and rats (yes, rats) just didn't seem like a big deal without the big thirty year mortgage, and there was enormous satisfaction in fixing the place up, improving both my home and the neighborhood. Since then, I have discovered so many radical ways to stretch a dollar or completely get around the dollar that I could easily write my own book. Most people who consider themselves "frugal" aren't anywhere near it. I'm still living in the same house and most people don't see anything "different" unless they really scratch beneath the surface. Often when they do, they are both horrified and envious. The usual response is, "I could never...." "I could never live without a car" (forbid they should have to plan ahead); "I could never line dry my clothes" (forbid they should have to go outside into the fresh air for a whole five minutes to hang a load). That's o.k. I wouldn't want a lot of the stuff in their life either. Now that I am older, I know folks who are stressing over their retirement. Some have discovered that they can no longer afford to retire or have been forced OUT of retirement. I think it's sad and a waste of life to work toward retirement. I have no retirement plans because there is nothing I'm doing now that I wouldn't be happy doing for the rest of my life. I think the reason that people look forward to retirement is not because they want to stop working. There isn't a thing wrong with good honest work. It keeps one active, engaged and involved with the world. The attraction of retirement is freedom....the freedom to travel, pursue hobbies, spend time with family, whatever. I already have that and have for many many years. Possum living is not about avoiding work. It's about not being stuck in a job and about having choices and being in charge of your own life. I have had years when I worked very hard and years when I hardly worked at all. It all depended on my priorities at the time. I am buying a bunch of copies to give as gifts to all the folks who I refused to loan my copy to. Buy this book. Read this book. Become a possum or don't. But do question everything and don't let anyone tell you what can't be done. There is a lot of misinformation out there passed off as "common knowledge" and "common sense". I was told repeatedly that none of this was possible. It is amazing what is possible. Figure it out for yourself and make your own choices.
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262 of 296 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2010
I do not think homesteaders are crazy; heck, I aspire to be a homesteader. However, I think the author of this book is a bit crazy. She talks about "leaving the rat race," but it seems she was never in it; what she really means is that her father (whom she calls Daddy throughout the book) left the rat race and her mother left them. She plans to have kids someday while continuing to live with her father and having a man either move in or "visit." (Yeah, good luck finding a guy to father your children when you spend all your time at home with "Daddy") And one of her ways of dealing with legal issues it to "catch your adversary's attention" by doing things like throwing a brick through his window in the middle of the night. She mentions other people that she claims are making the homesteaders look bad, but does not realize she is one of them.

Since she was never in the rat race, you'd think this book has some helpful tips about starting homesteading without having ever been in the rat race; but sadly, it does not. The house she lives in was bought by her parents when they worked, and she says that one should work for a few years to buy a house and give it to their children. Personally I think a huge part of homesteading is being self-sufficient, and would not want my adult offspring dependent on me giving them a house.

Not only does this book not tell you how to start from nothing, it also does not tell you much of anything. There are a few tips, but certainly not $10 worth. More than once it tells you to go to read books about a subject, when if you bought this book you probably expected this book to tell you about the subject. The fact that this book was written by a 19 year old with a 7th grade education and a sense of entitlement (that she somehow manages to have while homesteading) really shows. This reads more like the diary of a sheltered girl than a book of homesteading tips.

If you are looking to begin homesteading, do not read this book as it will only sully your perception of homesteading and homesteaders. If you are a homesteader already read it to laugh at the absurdity, but don't expect to get $10 worth of homesteading tips.
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72 of 79 people found the following review helpful
I bought Possum Living when it first came out in the late 1970s and devoured it. Although that was during a period when I had a great career and an income to match, I have always had a strong frugal side. This book provided a wealth of great ideas, but even more it was a tremendous source of inspiration. I loved the book, read it 3 or 4 times, and then lost it, along with many other books, in the process of a move. Most of the books I lost were not worth replacing, and I couldn't even remember what many of them were. But Possum Living was special. I missed it and lamented the loss - even more so when I learned the book was out of print and I could not find another copy.

Some years later, when I found myself jobless and broke for a couple of years, I remembered the lessons Dolly Freed shares in this wonderful book and what could have been a tragedy became a great, liberating adventure.

I had wondered whatever became of Dolly and had tried in vain to find her by searching the internet. After many years, I'm absolutely delighted to learn that Possum Living has been reprinted and is available once again. I've ordered another copy, and this time I intend to hold on to it. I trust a whole new generation will discover not only this book, but the lifestyle which it champions. With today's worsening economy, the message of Possum Living is needed more now than ever.

Get this book. Reading it may change your life - and could even save it.
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141 of 160 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2011
Please don't buy this horrible book. I am into urban homesteading and try to grow most of my family's veggies and fruits in our backyard. Not only are most of the "money saving tips" out of date, but many are immoral as well as illegal. You can find an archive text of the 1978 release on the web if you google it. Not only does the author advocate vandalism and eating unfortunate homeless cats and dogs, but she also talks about eating "long pig". Check out the chapter MEATS. For those of you who don't know, "long pig" is slang for HUMAN. Granted she says for "emergency", but there is no way anyone homesteading or "possum living" should be in that kind of emergency. This is reserved for Andes plane crash victims. Register with the local food bank or hitch a ride to the local soup kitchen if necessary. If hunting wild game is your thing, then do it responsibly, but don't eat pets or people.

I am more than a bit concerned that some people are recommending this book wholesale without paying any attention to the ethical issues it contains. Some are just glossing over these problems saying, "She is just joking." Unfortunately, this is not the case. According to a recent interview, the following is the kind of environment in which she grew up. Her attitude toward her father, Frank ..." She accepted and even endorsed his crazy behavior, his moral code." "When developers started building houses nearby, those houses mysteriously burned. Barking dogs disappeared. When the derelict hotel across the road burned to the ground, everyone (wrongly) assumed vagrants. "If someone's playing loud music at the creek behind the house, you or I would go ask them to turn it down," says Marie. "Frank would go cut their tires. It was just Frank's nature."

If you want to live outside the current monetary system and rampant consumerism, more power to you. But, don't think that means you should also live outside of ethical codes and the current legal system.

Even if you want to believe she is writing humor, why would you want to spent hard-earned cash on it when there are much, much better (and very serious) books available? If you really want a great book on how to live independently, sustainably, and with little money, check out Carol Deppe's book The Resilient Gardener. Carol not only talks the talk, she walks the walk (unlike "Dolly") in this day and age. And I'm pretty sure she never slit anyone's tires or ate her neighbor's cat!
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62 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2010
This will be added to the top ten worst books Ive ever read in my life and a huge moneywaster for anyone who likes to live a "frugal" life. Sure her Dad is thiftly--apparently thats so he can drink more hooch and not be worried about having anything pesky like a "job" or paying taxes. The whole "freedom" lifesyle she shoves in your face in this books is a complete load of bulls***. Oh and if a bill collecter or lawyer or any type law enforcement type is harrasing you--just go to their house and toss a rock or two in their window or slash a few tires--no big deal to these people! No wonder Mom fled this family early on. Dont waste your money on this crap.
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68 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2009
I first heard about this book in "Countryside and Small Stock Magazine" (published in Wisconsin by the Belanger family) about 15 years ago. It was hard to find--I finally lucked out after looking for 3 years and found a used copy in a thrift store. Dolly Freed wrote this when she was 19 living with her divorced father in a house they had bought cheap and restored in rural Pennsylvania, the nearest city being Philadelphia. She writes with such individuality, humor, and enthusiasm that I broke out with laughter while reading the book. For example, she talks about the "necessities of life" including alcoholic beverages; she then explains how to make your own--no problem--using a pressure cooker! She also tells how she raises chickens and "bunnies" in the basement for food.

It's great that the book is available again. The cover of the new book is very similar to the original edition's, which was paperbag-brown in color. These original editions, printed in 1979 and the early 1980s, are priced today at about $200 a copy!

The reprinted book is a bargain at less than $10 from Amazon. "Possum Living" is much shorter but in the same vein as Carla Emery's "Encyclopedia of Country Living." Don't miss it!
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
*** EDIT *** 8/24/2009 - An updated version has been published and can be ordered: Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money

First, I should let you know that I am Dolly's younger brother (briefly mentioned in the book and in the documentary). For the many people who have asked, here and elsewhere, Dolly is very much alive and well.

To reviewer "Howard":
A) The intro to book clearly says 1/2-acre lot 40 miles from Philadelphia. It was not 5 acres, 5 miles from Philadelphia.
B) Say what you want, but they really did have rabbits and chickens in the basement (more rabbits than chickens). Sorry, but you are wrong.
C) Since we already established that your geographic positioning was incorrect, we can also conclude that you assumption about the quality of the wildlife is also wrong. They lived right next to the water reservoir and many farms. The fish and game 40 miles away from Philadelphia are some of the best eating around!

To reviewer "Gregory": You bet! Dad was not to be taken lightly!

To all of the rest, Dolly is still one of the most quick witted and frugal people I know. She is also pleased and wryly amused that so many people still take an interest in her book.

The book is dated by today's standards and definitely contains some socially unacceptable elements, but most of the basic philosophies found in the text still hold true. You might also want to keep your children from reading the "Necessities of Life" chapter.
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60 of 69 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 12, 2011
Stop right now. Do not buy this book. Maybe it was the best of its kind in 1978, but today there are so many more books to choose from on the topic of sustainable living and homesteading. Books without the heavy dose of creepiness, craziness, and kookiness. Books that don't assume you are starting with the independent wealth of a house and land owned free and clear. You can find a good dozen of those books now. Buy a couple of them. Do NOT buy this book.

On the other hand, if you enjoy watching trainwrecks, feel free to waste your money on this book and tune in for the backwoods adventures of this teenage girl and her "daddy" (I have nothing against parents and kids being close but something seems...off...in the dynamics here). Thrill as they sup on endangered snapping turtle. Oooh and ahh as they reject routine healthcare and health insurance as though it were a lottery ticket kind of "investment." And don't forget the paranoid rants about "welfare moms" and the "fat cats in Washington."

Oh, and if you want to live this hillbilly dream, be sure that someone gives you a nice piece of workable land and a house free and clear, because otherwise much of the advice is utterly useless.
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119 of 142 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2010
I understand that a great many people enjoy this book and are at least able to apply the principles to their own lives, and kudos to them for that. I think that's a fine idea, and originally that was my plan on reading this book. The basic principle is an excellent one. However, I found the discussion of meat in this to be somewhat distasteful and completely unrealistic. If she actually ate many of these things, considering she lists several endangered and protected species, she would go to jail. She discusses eating turtles, mountain lions, wild pigeons, starlings, robins, woodchucks, squirrels, and raccoons, as well as dogs and cats. This isn't only disgusting and morally reprehensible, it's also very, very illegal. So unless the zombie apocalypse is actually clearly going on outside your window, there is little advice here to follow.

She then goes on in a later chapter to say what you should do if you're ever in legal trouble. She advocates threatening the opposition's lawyer (the "adversary") and going to his house to vandalize his property-- slash his tires, throw bricks through his windows, etc. If he has a dog, attempt to befriend it, or if it disapproves of your entrance into its yard, poison it. "It's no sin to kill a vicious animal, and it will make your adversary feel more vulnerable." Uh-huh. Well, at least she didn't say to eat it. The afterword discusses and repudiates this chapter, but it still is extremely discomforting.

I love the basic idea behind this, but her methods concern me. If you do want to read this book, there are free versions available online, and I recommend reading some or all of the text to see if you like it before purchasing.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2012
Please don't buy this horrible book. I am into urban homesteading and try to grow most of my family's veggies and fruits in our backyard. Not only are most of the "money saving tips" out of date, but many are immoral as well as illegal. You can find an archive text of the 1978 release on the web if you google it. Not only does the author advocate vandalism and eating unfortunate homeless cats and dogs, but she also talks about eating "long pig". Check out the chapter MEATS. For those of you who don't know, "long pig" is slang for HUMAN. Granted she says for "emergency", but there is no way anyone homesteading or "possum living" should be in that kind of emergency. This is reserved for Andes mountain plane crash victims. Register with the local food bank or hitch a ride to the local soup kitchen if necessary. If hunting wild game is your thing, then do it responsibly, but don't eat pets or people.

I am more than a bit concerned that some people are recommending this book wholesale without paying any attention to the ethical issues it contains. Some are just glossing over these problems saying, "She is just joking." Unfortunately, this is not the case. According to a recent interview, the following is the kind of environment in which she grew up. Her attitude toward her father, Frank ..." She accepted and even endorsed his crazy behavior, his moral code." "When developers started building houses nearby, those houses mysteriously burned. Barking dogs disappeared. When the derelict hotel across the road burned to the ground, everyone (wrongly) assumed vagrants. "If someone's playing loud music at the creek behind the house, you or I would go ask them to turn it down," says Marie. "Frank would go cut their tires. It was just Frank's nature."

If you want to live outside the current monetary system and rampant consumerism, more power to you. But, don't think that means you should also live outside of ethical codes and the current legal system.

Even if you want to believe she is writing humor, why would you want to spent hard-earned cash on it when there are much, much better (and very serious) books available?

If you really want a great book on how to live independently, sustainably, and with little money, check out Carol Deppe's book The Resilient Gardener. Carol not only talks the talk, she walks the walk (unlike "Dolly") in this day and age. And I'm pretty sure she never slit anyone's tires or ate her neighbor's cat!
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